Effects of Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Lean Mass, Muscle Strength, and Bone Mineral Density During Weight Loss: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Apr;64(4):769-78. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14049. Epub 2016 Apr 5.


Objectives: To compare the effects of 12 months of vitamin D3 supplementation with that placebo on lean mass, bone mineral density (BMD), and muscle strength in overweight or obese postmenopausal women completing a structured weight-loss program.

Design: Double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial.

Setting: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Participants: Postmenopausal women aged 50 to 75 with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m(2) or greater and a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration between 10.0 and 32.0 ng/mL (insufficient) (N = 218).

Intervention: Oral vitamin D3 2,000 IU/d or placebo in combination with a lifestyle-based weight loss intervention consisting of a reduction of 500 kcal to 1,000 kcal per day and 225 min/wk of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise.

Measurements: Serum 25(OH)D, body composition, and muscle strength were measured before randomization (baseline) and at 12 months. Mean changes of the groups were compared (intention to treat) using generalized estimating equations.

Results: Change in 25(OH)D was significantly different between the vitamin D and placebo groups at 12 months (13.6 ng/mL vs -1.3 ng/mL, P < .001), but no differences in change in lean mass (-0.8 kg vs -1.1 kg, P = .53) or BMD of the spine (-0.01 g/cm(2) vs 0.0 g/cm(2) , P = .82) or right femoral neck (both -0.01 g/cm(2) , P = .49) were detected between the groups. Leg strength decreased in the vitamin D group but not in the placebo group (-2.6 pounds vs 1.8 pounds, P = .03). In women randomized to vitamin D, achieving repletion (25(OH)D ≥ 32 ng/mL) did not alter results.

Conclusion: Vitamin D3 supplementation during weight-loss decreased leg strength but did not alter changes in lean mass or BMD in postmenopausal women with vitamin D insufficiency.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01240213.

Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; caloric restriction; exercise; obesity; strength.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Postmenopause
  • Washington
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • Cholecalciferol

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01240213